GSO records piece written by Batavia teenager

Feb 11, 2016

Batavia music teacher Jane Haggett recalls the time years ago when her student, Ross Chua, came barrelling into a performance, still dressed in his Tae Kwon Do uniform.

He grabbed his trumpet and, still in uniform, belted out a number for a “Music in Our Schools” program.

“That’s part of the reason why Ross is the way he is,” she said. “He has strong support from his family, taking him to different activities, and he has a passion for whatever he does.”

Ross is 17 now, far removed from that performance about seven years ago.

He is a senior at Batavia High School and still maintains that passion for music.

Last week, he sat in a chair in the band room at school, a room full of musicians from the Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

This time, though, Ross was not performing. He was watching and listening and smiling.

Ross became the first student in Haggett’s 26 years as a teacher to compose an original symphony piece, tentatively titled “Spectacle in Flight.”

“He took my music theory class and I knew something was there,” Haggett said. “He understood theory and how music is written. It interested him.”

Ross wants to major in music composition in college and has to submit original compositions as part of the application process.

The GSO agreed to perform and record the piece, which was done last week and is one of three Ross has written in the past year.

The other two were shorter compositions. “Spectacle in Flight” chimes in at about seven minutes, with six movements.

Why the title?

“When it’s in my head, I feel it’s something to marvel at,” Ross says. “It’s like when I look at something marvelous. I wanted that spectacle. Then there’s the flying part. There’s been a lot of bird symbolism in my life.”

His aunt died last year. Her favorite song was “Free Bird.”

His mother, Allison Chua, chose songs for her children when they were born. Ross’s song?

“Close to You” by the Carpenters, with it’s catchy verse “Why do birds suddenly appear?”

The last two plays Ross will be a part of at school are

“Peter and Wendy” and “Mary Poppins.”

“Spectacle in Flight” hopes to capture that spirit of soaring majestically through the air.

It wasn’t an easy process.

Ross began writing his composition last summer. He finished two movements, set it aside, and went about his life, a busy one at that.

Then, during winter break, he got inspired, with help from another aunt and music teacher Sean Williams.

“I’ve been working with Ross for four years with Batavia Trumpet Ensemble,” Williams said. This year we’ve been honing his composing talents by taking part and reassembling musical motifs in his composition and coming up with new ways to look at musical ideas.”

The result was four more movements and a finished composition.

“In my 30 years in music, Ross is by far the quickest and most prolific young composer I’ve worked with,” Wiliams said. “I’m very proud with the work he’s done and look forward to bigger and better things in the future.”

Needless to say, his family is proud, too.

“Even as an infant, Ross created music in his crib, humming all the time,” Allison Chua says. “I believe whole-heartedly that Ross’ talents were God-given.”

Ross lives with his parents on Trumbull Parkway. His dad is Dave Chua, a financial advisor.

Both were in attendance for the recording session, which featured the full GSO with guest conductor Nicholas DelBello of Buffalo.

For Ross, watching his piece come to life was exhilarating.

“I love to perform but to watch them to do it was incredible,” he said. “My idea of a music career is not to play but to write. The GSO had my composition for about a week but they are so professional and they picked it up quickly. It was a brilliant sound. My job was just to follow the score and explain and answer questions.”

Ross is hoping to attend Ithaca State College but also has applied to Fredonia and Syracuse.

While music composition is limited as far as jobs, Ross does see a number of areas where he can use such a degree, including scoring films and Broadway productions or creating original pieces for orchestras.

There’s not much doubt among his family, friends and teachers that Ross could do anything he puts his mind to.

He’s a top 10 student, assistant director of the Drama Club, band president, he works at Habitat for Humanity and is a member of the choir at Northgate Methodist Church and an active participant in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program. He also plays tennis and was a top member of the champion Scholastic Bowl Team that was the first Batavia team to go to nationals ion Washington.

Despite his many accomplishments, Ross, as Haggett explained, is “humble.”

“That’s one of the best things about Ross is that he’s humble,” she said. “That will work for him down the road. He’s definitely going to have success.”

Humble and thankful. The last thing Ross added during an interview was to thank everyone who has helped him, from his many music teachers and, especially, his family.

“They were all so supportive,” he said. “My family was the first to hear my piece. They gave me advice and encouraged me.”

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by Scott Desmit, The Daily News (2/6/2016)
For online article, click here!